Philippa Martin

Philippa Martin

Associate Professor
University of Canterbury, New Zealand
New Zealand
Philippa Martin
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Philippa Martin completed her Bachelors of Engineering degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand in 1996. She went on to complete a PhD in 2001. Since then she has been working as a researcher and academic at the University of Hawaii (2002) and University of Canterbury 2001-current). Her research interests are in Wireless Communications Engineering, e.g. the computer algorithms and digital systems inside cell phones. Her teaching interests include circuits, systems, signal processing and communications engineering. Philippa also has two young daughters who she loves to do science experiments with.

  • I am willing to be contacted by educators for possible speaking engagements in schools or in after school programs or summer camps.
  • I am willing to be interviewed by interested students via email.
Answers by Assoc. Prof. Philippa Martin

There are lots of ways to be creative with Electrical Engineering.  I know people who have gone on to work with lighting for concerts and theatre.  There is wearable computing and e-textiles.  At my University we have the HitLab (Human Interface Technology Lab), which does really cool stuff to do with technology interacting with people (a robot visited my desk yesterday - a bit of a giggle). There are heaps of other options too.  The key is going to be looking around for opportunities or making your own.  Perhaps coming up with a hobby Arduino or Lilypad project might give you some ideas on how to combine your EEE knowledge with your creative side.

Before you start a postgraduate degree make sure it is really what you want.  Once you start it will require supreme dedication.

Good luck with the next stage of your journey.  The BE is just a starting point. Best regards, Philippa.

Hi there, I really like this website, love the idea!I'm writing actually to get some advice, as I'm starting to feel frustrated and depressed about this issue.You see, I'm an engineering student who's in her last year. I used to be in the Electrical/Electronics Engineering Department, but then I transferred to another university and I'm majoring in Telecommunications Engineering since Electronics Engineering was not offered then.Anyway, to make the long story short, I've been having a lot of difficulties with computer science subjects.. I passed a lot of them and understood at least 60% of them, but some are so difficult for me and they don't seem to sink in!I have taken C programming before and I'm 90% good at it. However, when it comes to Java language programming this semester, I feel very lost. The lecturer is going too fast and I can't follow at all, and he keeps on saying that I can't be a good engineer if my java programming skills are bad.. I just want to know if that's true?I love maths and I'm fairly good at physics, I'm 75% good at electronics and other engineering subjects which I find quite interesting, but these days I'm having second thoughts that maybe I made the wrong choice and I don't belong to engineering, as I'm not so creative and like those students who can invent different things in their spare time.. I love engineering, but at times I doubt if I'm good enough to be an engineer..I'm doing well so far and my GPA has never been less than 3.00, and I want to take up further studies and major in Biomedical Engineering. but I'm so worried that I might not be able to cope since my programming skills are OK and I still get a bit confused when it comes to mechanics. I am hardworking and I never rely on lectures only, I try read from other books and watch video tutorials when I don't understand something, but I still feel it's not good enough. What do I have to do to be a good engineer? Thank you so much in advance.


Congratulations for being in your last year and for working so hard.  The world needs more engineers like you.  I imagine it is very difficult to change schools and majors during your studies.  

You mention that your lecturer "keeps on saying that I can't be a good engineer if my java programming skills are bad."  Well, I am an Associate Professor in an Electrical and Electronic Engineering department.  My research specialization is telecommunications, specifically the physical layer.  I think I am a successful engineer.  Now here comes the shocker ... I don't know Java :-)  I use C/C++ and MATLAB.  The tools you need will depend on the job you do. I believe the secret to job success is understanding what you are good at and then finding a job that needs those skills. So, I recommend finding out a little bit more about what skills are most useful for the biomedical engineering area that interests you.  Most importantly, please continue to work hard and get good grades.  

You mention creativity.  There are all sorts of engineering job.  Some require a high level of originality and creativity, but many do not.  Once again, it is about finding your niche.  It is very common to not know exactly what you want to do in your final year.  Is there a local lecturer who is supportive and could give you some information on where past graduates have ended up working and what they do?

All the best,

Philippa Martin.

Hi Hadessa, I always found Electrical Engineering (EE) easier than physics, just because of the way my mind works.  Unlike yourself, I loved circuits.  I am having heaps of fun currently with Lilypad arduino.  However, there is more to EE than just circuits.  I lecture to both EE and Computer Engineering students.  We use quite a bit of programming. I think of EE and CE as being the brains of a project, ie. we control, gather and analyze information.  This tends to involve computing or circuits of some form, but not always.  

I guess I would like to turn your question around ... What do you like doing?  What interests you?  Why do you think it would be cool to be an engineer?

Wishing you all the best for the future. Sorry for the slow reply.